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Stingy defense in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter was the determining factor for the Hunt High varsity girls basketball team in its 60-50 home win over Southern Durham in the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs Thursday.
The No. 7 seed in the East Region, the Big East Conference-champion Lady Warriors (22-3) held the No. 23 Big 8 Conference Lady Spartans (18-10) scoreless for the final five minutes of the game. Hunt head coach Tiffany Parks said she switched the defense from the 1-3-1 zone it had ran all game to man-to-man with one defender face-guarding junior guard Taylor Robinson — who had a game-high 30 points. Hunt finished the game on a 11-0 run.
“We had problems in the center of our 1-3-1 being able to cut off the middle,” Parks said. “We denied her (Robinson) the ball so we had somebody on her tight so she couldn’t get the ball back and that helped a lot. But it’s a tiring job so we knew we wanted to save it.”
The offense for the Lady Warriors struggled to get going all game, as they turned the ball over 20 times and shot 18 for 46 from the field and 1 for 7 from 3-point range. The one consistent player all night was junior Imani Sutton, who finished with a team-high 26 points.
“Just seeing where the open spots are and getting to them and taking what the defense will allow me,” Sutton said of how she was able to score.
“She’s really stepped up the last three games through the tournament and everything, I think this has kind of been her moment,” Parks added.
The Lady Warriors made up for some of their offensive woes by going 22 of 27 at the free-throw line. Junior Bria Griffth was 6 for 7 at the foul line on her way to 10 points and eight assists.
It is believed to be the first time the Lady Warriors have reached the third round in program history. Parks has taken Hunt one step further in the postseason each year since her arrival three years ago. The Lady Warriors will take a two-hour drive to Southeast Guilford (24-3) to play the No. 2 seed Saturday.
“We’re just excited we made it so that’s progress, and now hopefully we can play a team we match up well with,” Parks said.
SOUTHERN DURHAM (50)
Robinson 30, Cadlett 4, Smith 9, Ingram 2, Richardson 3, Lindsay 2.
Sutton 26, Griffth 10, McNeil 7, Spells 6, Smith 4,Lucas 3, Rushing 2, Carlton 2.
Score by quarters:
Southern Durham 12 15 16 7 — 50
Hunt 6 21 14 19 — 60